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Hero to Zero

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  • Hero to Zero

    I have been having some interesting conversations with other brewers about the GABF. I was a little off set from the results of this passed judging. In my mind I had thought I had a sure thing, my beer won the gold at the WBC, yet the same beer, same batch didn’t place at the GABF.

    As always, I personally bottle the beer and take every precaution I can to insure the highest quality. I am still waiting to see the tasting notes to find some clue why this beer that was the WBC best in its category is less than 3rd at the GABF.

    Are there others out there like me? I have heard of conspiracy and other misconduct, but I really don’t believe this to be true, what do you think?
    Mark Duchow
    Brew Master
    Short Fuse Brewing Co.
    "The best beer is FREE beer"

  • #2
    I don't know what category you were entered in, but the number of entries probably worked against you. Competitions are such a crapshoot, your beer might have suffered by being tasted before or after something that affected the judges palates.

    Tasting beer, even for a trained judge, is such a subjective thing!

    Cheers, Tim


    • #3
      I don't mean to be an ass, but are you making beer just to win medals? Yeah it is nice to get recognized for something you work hard at, but crying foul and conspiracy, that is a bit much people! To me it is more of a prize when someone new tries my beer and I can see the excitement in their face as they truly enjoy my craftsmanship, I would trade a medal for that any day. Plus, Tim is right judging is so subjective that you never know what you will get. Maybe I have a pessimistic outlook on this, but don't expect anything and be pleasantly surprised if you win something! Also, can I make the point that Hurricane high gravity won a gold in this same competition, obviously different category, but still they can claim the same accolades that Dogfish Head can with their Red & White. As a consumer Hurricane and Red & White should not even be mentioned in the same breath. Point being, don't take yourselves too seriously, let the consumer be your judge!


      • #4
        I think this says it all. Full stats for the GABF. 2092 beers in comp., 127 judges, avg. number of beers in each cat. 39.
        Cheers & I'm out!
        David R. Pierce
        NABC & Bank Street Brewhouse
        POB 343
        New Albany, IN 47151


        • #5
          How about this tidbit:

          Category: 22 International-Style Pilsener - 22 Entries
          Gold: Session Premium Lager, Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR
          Silver: Yep, Still Boneheads, The SandLot, Denver, CO
          Bronze: OE 800, MillerCoors, Milwaukee, WI

          I don't know if anyone's had Olde English recently, but I had my fair share in my youth. It is repulsing.
          Troy Robinson
          Quirk Brewing
          Walla Walla


          • #6
            Captain Mullet,

            I have experienced the same thing from WBC to GABF and GABF to WBC. Some of the beers do great at one and not the other. It most certainly has to do with the crapshoot affect, which tarmadilo brings up. It's about where your beers end up in the flight! It may also have something to do with the subjective opinions of the judges at either the WBC or the GABF. It's not a conspiracy.

            One interesting thing I have noticed are the beers which place consistantly in these categories. It truly shows how careful and consitant the judges are. I've had three silver medals for the same beer over a three year period at GABF and I had a beer win two silvers, one gold and then a bronze at the WBC over the years.

            edm1077, I don't think Captain Mullet takes himself too seriously, hence the name. He wants constructive criticism as do the majority of brewers. It's a way to gauge your consistency and your craft. I agree, it is nice to have your patrons, and collegues, and friends enjoy your beer, but it is also nice to know where you stand on a national or international level, by a panel of professional judges.

            Todd Malloy
            Director of Brewing
            Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co.
            Glenwood Springs, Colorado


            • #7
              Hey buddy, your mullet is blocking my view! You can do everything in the world to make your beer great, but it won't change anything about the beers you're competing against. Almost everybody makes great beer these days, and I think that winning in any narrowly-defined style category requires a huge amount of luck. If this year's WBC beers were judged ten more times (congrats, by the way!), I'd bet that you'd see ten different results.

              Joe from down the road


              • #8
                I am well acquainted with a gentleman who judges GABF, WBC and others regularly. I am certain(*) that there is no conspiracy, and the vagaries of Lady Luck and subjectivity are a simple and adequate explanation of variability in results.

                As has been hinted, the sheer volume of alcohol the judges have to cope with is also a significant factor.


                * : as far as anybody can be certain about anything in this life.


                • #9
                  GABF Judging

                  I used to wonder about the judging as well so I did something about it. I contacted the folks that manage the judging and found out how to become one and judged this year.

                  It is a tough job. There are so many beers in a flight that it is difficult to really cut down the entrants to start. Slight nuances make the difference and there are so many really well done beers these days that it depends on what order a beer is presented and the make up of the judge panel.

                  For example, if you judged say, a Double IPA flight and the first beer you sampled blew your tongue out and all the rest tasted like candy. You know which beer will go forward.

                  I have won Gold and two Silver medals for my Kolsch and thought this year would be a possibility, no go. I have won two Silvers and a Bronze for my Wee Heavy, this year, no go. In fact no medals this year at all and I look over the list of those awarded medals and realize that there are many great brewers not on that list. There are also some guys that consistantly do well, congrats to them and all those awarded medals this year. I will be back next year and know that the competition is tough and getting tougher.

                  I also know now what happens in the "Star Chamber"...not much more than a qualified group of folks trying really hard to ensure that the best beers are chosen.
                  Bill Madden
                  CEO and Brewer
                  Mad Fox Brewing Company
                  Northern Virginia
                  703.380.0622 cell


                  • #10
                    Cool, thanks for your input. Conspiracy was not my point, just some muttered rumor.
                    I am a brewer and a businessman. A customer’s smile is great, I agree, but I also wish to grow my business and with a win you are guaranteed to get the press and in turn more business.

                    I am trying to make a judgment on weather or not to send my beer in to either the WBC or the GABF in the coming years. It is costly but the benefits of winning are a great deal of good press, we are still feeling the effects of the WBC win and I am sure we will for the months to come. On the other hand coming away empty handed there is no press and no new customers along with the cost of entering and shipping. This money could have been easily spent in other areas of the business.

                    Are there any other contests in which you have sent your beers?

                    I have sent beer to The United States Beer Tasting Championships and of course there is The World Beer Championships run by the Beverage Testing Institute, both of which we have had good results. Both look more at the character of the beer rather than having it squeeze into a box. USBTC is free, the BTI – WBC costs around $150 per beer.
                    Mark Duchow
                    Brew Master
                    Short Fuse Brewing Co.
                    "The best beer is FREE beer"


                    • #11
                      If we only knew to begin with....

                      Originally posted by Captain Mullet
                      On the other hand coming away empty handed there is no press and no new customers along with the cost of entering and shipping. This money could have been easily spent in other areas of the business.
                      "I know I waste half the money I spend on advertising," department store pioneer John Wanamaker said. "The problem is, I don't know which half."


                      • #12
                        I feel your pain Captian Mullet. I'm pretty certain that I know the beer in which you speak. If I am correct, I can tell you that I have one Gold in the same category last year, then made the beer again for World Beer Cup. This time-shut out-which royally sucked. I chose to hold on to a keg and "lager" it til GABF. Well, it worked, we got silver this year. Same beer. different judges I am sure. And all the other "great" beers I made this year for GABF-shut out. It's the way things go. AND I echo the sentiments above. the beers are REALLY good nowadays and the judging is a bit subjective. I know because I ahve judged the last two years. The BA makes it as Objective as possible and the good beers do often repeat year after year, but there is always some play in the results. Look at this, a certain brewer who was Small brewery of the year at BOTH the WBC 08 and GABF 07 only earned a bronze. I tried his beers. they are awesome. That's the way it goes. there were others like this.

                        I do feel your concern for the cost of entering for what you get out of it. I am fortunate that I don't own the buisness and feel it more. can't win if oyu don't play.

                        good luck
                        Oh, and I've had your beers CM, they are great and you'll win again.

                        Flossmoor Station
                        Matt Van Wyk
                        Oakshire Brewing
                        Eugene Oregon


                        • #13
                          I propose a simple solution, Captain:
                          Send me a case of your beer for no entry fee and I'll send you a medal! You don't spend much money, get medals, and I get cheap beer that I trust is good!
                          Maybe two cases gets a gold...


                          • #14
                            Reminds me of:
                            (Who Says) You Can't Have It All - Alan Jackson


                            • #15
                              Here's the way it has been described to me by a bunch of different judges. If there are 40 beers in a category then the breakdown is as follows:

                              10 are really not good or poor interpretations of the style

                              20 are good, but are nothing special

                              10 are excellent beers and make it through to the second round. In the second round, any one of these beers could be Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on who is judging, the order in which they are served, etc.

                              I've had years where I won three medals and those were the three (out of 8) that had made it through to the second round. I also had a year where 7 of 8 made it into the second round but I got shut out of the medals. In the end, as a company, the winning of the medals is better for marketing and promotion. As a brewer, I was prouder of the year that 7 of 8 made it through to the second round. Sort of tough to promote, but a better representation of how well your beers are being received by the judges.

                              As for all the people (both in this forum and others) who are bashing OE 800 and how it could possibly win a medal, try doing a blind tasting with other beers of that style with OE 800 against the style guidelines. I think you may be pretty surprised at your judging results.

                              In my opinion, the fact that they won actually dismisses some of the conspiracy theory. Think about it. To the average consumer when they see this it may actually diminish what they think about the GABF and the meaning of the medals it awards. Why would the BA ever do anything to diminish the reputation of something that by far and away is their biggest fund raiser of the year? This is the very reason that they are very stringent on the Marketing of the Medals, requiring the year, category and medal awarded on anything that markets the win.


                              Dave Schlosser
                              Schlosser Craft Brewing - Consulting
                              David Schlosser
                              Brewmaster / Founder
                              Naked Dove Brewing Company
                              Canandaigua, NY